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Garden Journal #7: 2015 Season Begins!

Updated on April 14, 2015
Back of house, before.
Back of house, before.

Before, During, _________

What you are looking at in the above photo, is my backyard about a year before I bought the house. Nothing fancy. Nothing scary.

That said, ignore the bushes and the crepe myrtles for a year, and things are not looking so tidy. (The front was worse.) Sorry to say we never took a picture of exactly how out-of-control things were when we first saw the house. The green bushes in the middle were so overgrown you could not walk down the sidewalk. I mentioned as much on my first official viewing of this house, and the realtor hired someone to come out and trim.

Someone blind. I think.

The result all around the entire house was a disaster. It is a good thing John loves the chainsaw.

September 2014

Bushes out; A/C units exposed; stumps left.
Bushes out; A/C units exposed; stumps left.

Notes on Bush Removal

Also on the day we first looked at the house, I want to mention that the finished basement carpet was covered in dead millipedes. Covered. Before we moved in, we painted nearly every wall in the house, and before doing the basement it was necessary to vacuum, simply to be able to work on the trim without crawling through the millipede carcasses. (Yick.)

After this, John sprayed the basement with Ortho Home Defense.

Fast forward to a few weeks or a month later. Millipedes still coming in and dying on our freshly shampoo'ed carpet. Maybe not quite as many as before, but honestly, how many is too many millipedes? (I say two.)

The weekend John removed all the bushes growing up against the house a few things happened. First, ladybugs moved in. Either they were living in the bushes on the bugs inside, or they were attracted by the upsetting of so many bugs.

Second, the basement millipede problem virtually ended. We haven't seen a millipede since. Whatever bushes were growing all around my house were housing SO MANY BUGS that millipedes from the entire neighborhood had moved in, to live fat as kings.

I also suspect the bushes were housing several wasp nests. Our bee problem seems more moderate this spring than it was in the fall.

Making Raised Beds

What we have been left with in this cleared space is one of the sunniest spots in the yard. I have never been one for high maintenance landscaping, and bushes up against the house have never really been my thing. (Bushes in general aren't my thing. I tolerate them only when they serve as natural privacy barriers.)

Because my few containers did so well last year compared to anything else I've ever tried to grow, I knew I wanted raised beds. John not only obliged, but agreed about this space. A few trips to Home Depot and about $100 later, he was in the back yard with a saw, an extension cord, and our son.

He created two raised beds from wood he had the guys at Home Depot cut to size. They are both 6' by 3' in diameter. The first comes up just under my waist, the idea being to avoid bending over as much as possible. But once it was in, I didn't like how much it blocked the view from my porch to the side of the house where the sidewalk runs. Because my kids play all over the place, this is somewhat important. Also, I thought some difference in heights might look cooler. So I had him make the second one half the height.

After lining the inside (along the wood) with plastic, we filled the bottom of each bed with a small layer of rocks and topped that with plain old topsoil which was about $1 a cubic foot. We mixed in the straggling compost I had been piling out there for the last year, and topped each with about six inches of Miracle Grow soil. I have to admit I'm a little nervous about getting anything to grow in these. My containers thrived with very little attention last year, but they were a mixture of pure Miracle Grow and peat moss.

I haven't even fully decided what I'm going to plant in each yet, but having them built and ready to be planted helps.

March 22, 2015

Finished raised bed: large.
Finished raised bed: large.

April 4, 2014

First bed in place. (Isaiah looking ridiculous but oh so helpful, always.)
First bed in place. (Isaiah looking ridiculous but oh so helpful, always.)
Left by previous homeowner, I think I'm going to make this into a squash trellis.
Left by previous homeowner, I think I'm going to make this into a squash trellis.

April 11, 2015

Both beds in place. Gathering containers. Figuring things out.
Both beds in place. Gathering containers. Figuring things out.

Final Notes, Plans, Etc.

  • Rent stump grinder, level the remaining area, cover ground in mulch. (Red mulch?)
  • Attach trellis to second bed. Nixed the idea of creating an arch between the two beds.
  • Figure out which of my herbs actually made it through the winter.
  • Gather supplies and get to planting.
  • Further consider how to improve this space - visually.

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